Ready. Set. Go! Hold on to your hats—the holiday season has officially begun. The next few months are going to disappear faster than a 95-point wine that retails for under twelve dollars. As a wine lover, I can barely keep up with all of the seasonal events and special promotions that bombard me daily. So, I’ve decided to put together a little guideline for anyone out there—like me—who can’t bear to miss a thing. Please mark the following on your calendar:
November 1. Daylight Savings Time Ends. By the time you read this, you have probably realized that you are craving wine a bit earlier in the day, due to the onset of the nocturnal lighting (aka darkness) much sooner than expected. Please don’t hesitate to listen to this message from your inner self. It is also a great defense mechanism for keeping the cold weather at bay.
November 9. The annual Wine Spectator magazine Top 100 countdown begins. These wines are selected based on “quality, value, availability, and excitement.” This is a biggie for wine geeks. Once these wines are announced, they can sell out worldwide within minutes. You really have to hustle to find them in a timely manner. Wine Spectator makes it fun by revealing the top ten wines on the list over a period of five days. On Monday the 9th they announce number ten and number nine. On Tuesday the 10th they announce number eight and number seven. And so on until Friday, when the Top Two Wines of the World are revealed. Thanks to modern technology, you can keep up with the countdown in real time on countdown.top100.winespectator.com.
On Monday, November 17, the entire list is printed, from #1 to #100. Expect some top-name no-brainers, but also some really cool surprises. Inevitably, some winery’s life is going to change forever.
November 19. The “Beaujolais est arrivé,” Baby. Even if you are not fond of this freshly bottled grape juice from the region of Beaujolais, France, it still remains one of the top worldwide celebrations of the wine harvest. It is the inaugural release of a 2015 wine from Europe, and is always considered a preview of everything to come. On this third Thursday of November, you can be one of the first to try it at many local liquor stores and restaurants. It pairs very well with the foods of the season, like turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
Finger Lakes Wine Trail Events:
Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15. Keuka Holidays: Wreaths, ornaments, food, recipes, and wine, with the added pleasure of getting all of your shopping done before Thanksgiving. These winery boutiques are packed with unique gifts for wine lovers and non-wine lovers alike. You’ll be amazed at the great stuff you will find, including lots of locally made treasures that make great gifts for out-of-towners. (www.keukawinetrail.com)
Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 4-6. Cayuga Lake’s 22nd Annual Holiday Shopping Spree: You can visit ten different wineries. You’ll receive a souvenir wine glass, a lovely grapevine wreath, and a trail ornament from each winery. You will also receive discounts, holiday treats complete with recipes, and the chance to win several flashy grand prizes. Delicious non- alcoholic beverages are offered for designated drivers. We like that. Or, if you want to really do it up, go for a weekend package that includes transportation to the wineries, and lodging at one of the charming local bed and breakfast spots. (www.cayugawinetrail.com)
Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 4-6. Seneca Lake Deck The Halls: You will be offered great recipes and food tastings along with your wine samples, and of course, the essential ornament at every stop. There are thirty-four participating wineries in the event, so if you have a big holiday tree, you can pretty much decorate it with one trip around the lake. (www.senecalakewine.com)
November 26. Thanksgiving. A favorite holiday of wine lovers because you can uncork just about anything you want. But every sommelier has their favorites. I am a creature of habit, so I always serve up a crisp, mouthwatering Finger Lakes Riesling to cut through the richness of the meal and also keep the palate refreshed between each and every bite. Plus, we usually have company from out-of-state, and I love showing off the local stuff! As for the pumpkin pie, I am apt to splurge and offer up a nicely chilled ice wine—one of New York State’s most luscious wine treasures.
December is like a tornado, and you need to have plenty of sparkling wine on hand. I keep several bottles chilled at all times, in case of emergency. It can be a welcome friend after stressful shopping days. It is my savior when surprise guests show up. It is a shoe-in for Sunday brunch. It can turn a winter storm into a romantic evening by the fire. And, it is the best wine ever for jumbo shrimp cocktail.
Bring on the holidays! Here’s to many festive days ahead. Enjoy the ride...